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A corset waist trainer is a garment which is tight fitting and has been stiffened to create a shape to a female torso These have been fashionable in the past and still are today. Traditionally, corsets were called a ‘pair of bodies’, a stiff bodice or stays before the 19th century. In fact, they are referenced in some texts from the 18th-century where they are referred to as corps. The actual origins of corsets are unknown but they go far back into history.
Stiffened bodices are displayed in portraits of Venetian females around the 1530s. Here the necklines are quite high with the chest flattened rather than pushed up. It was only during the 16th century where the cleavage was pushed upwards and torso formed into a slim cylindrical shape. These corsets were often manufactured from horn or whalebone. During these times the bodice was usually a part of a dress, but during the 17th century, the bodice was separated to become it’s own garment. During this time, corsets developed a more cone style shape which was usually constructed from two pieces of fabric which were boned. These were commonly referred to as stays and were held together at the front with a busk. Towards the end of the 17th-century women wore skirts, jackets with a bodice as underwear. At this time, the waists of dresses got higher and so the bodices became shorter than they were previously. It is around this period when doctors sometimes warned women against lacing their corsets to tightly.
In the 1820s, the fashionable waist went back down and corsets also became more popular. Lacing islets with metal grommets were created in 1828 and shortly after a mechanism was created where a corset could be opened and closed at the front without the need for lacing and unlacing. The hourglass silhouette which is famous today has evolved from the middle of the century where corsets were the only way to dress. At this time, the emphasis was on creating beautiful corsets from delicate fabrics.
In the 1880s there was a rising popularity of the pear-shaped corset which bent inwards around the stomach area. During Victorian times, corsets could now be mass-produced due to new technology in manufacturing. These previously had to be custom-made to a ladies measurements. But during World War I, fashion changed and women could look elegant without wearing corsets. The tight lacing had disappeared, and elastic took its place which provided more movement.
The 1920s saw women become interested in sports and along with that came a need for clothing that allowed for more freedom of their movement. The widely desired silhouette figure had changed from an hourglass to a thinner figure. During this time, girdles manufactured from plastic appeared. The idea behind these was to control the waist and hips without constricting. Bras were worn to support the breast area, and so the girdle was popular instead of corsets through the 1940s. Throughout these years corsets were still seen for erotic means but had disappeared from popular fashion.
During the 1970s, the punk movement brought corsets back. These were often worn as outerwear as punks would wear old fashioned lingerie. Many designers helped to bring back the corset, as they became a part of the mainstream. Pop stars such as Madonna and Cyndi Lauper can be seen wearing them in the 1980s. And today celebrities such as Jessica Alba and Kim Kardashian can be seen bringing back the corset and waist training craze. Take a look at our rundown of the best corsets for waist training.